“My Mom and I were Talking About Ways that Children could Give Back. I Thought Maybe It would be a Good Idea to Donate My Presents. I Decided Right Then I would Do That Every Other Year”

In May 2012, Gabby Smart, a 12-year-old girl who lives in Clinton, Montana, asked for horse supplies for her birthday. The horse supplies weren’t for her; they were for Bitterroot Valley’s Willing Servants, a horse-rescue charity. Gabby and her mother, Nicole, were able to deliver a pickup load of horse supplies to Willing Servants. Nicole said, “We’re very blessed as a family. We’ve always tried to do what we can to help others.” When Gabby was eight years old, she and her mother talked about doing good deeds. Gabby said, “My mom and I were talking about ways that children could give back. I thought maybe it would be a good idea to donate my presents. I decided right then I would do that every other year.” When she was nine years old, her friends at her birthday party bought her leashes and collars and other small-animal stuff that she donated to the Missoula, Montana, animal shelter. Gabby said, “They were all so happy. It made me feel good. It was nice to feel like I’m doing something to help. It made me want to do it some more.” Willing Servants founder Theresa Manzella said, “It really just blows me away that an eight-year-old can come up with an idea like this. We’re all called to be cheerful givers. For me, it’s an honor that she selected us.” Gabby said, “Birthdays aren’t really about getting a bunch of stuff, you know. It’s supposed to be a celebration of another year. I like to do something that’s not all about you. I think we should spread our thankfulness. This is actually really fun. It’s so nice to be able to give it all away to someone who really needs it. If kids just knew how good it makes you feel, maybe more might start doing this, too. Can you imagine how that would make people feel? I think it could really help.”

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